Listen up, Carl Hiaasen fans! There's a new kid on the block in Florida, and she can crank out a tale worthy of the quirkiest of the Sunshine State scribes. In her first mystery novel (after two previous literary efforts), author N.M. Kelby seems to have found her calling. Whale Season chronicles some very strange events in the tiny south Florida town of Whale Harbor. No whales have ever been spotted in Whale Harbor, mind you, but that didn't stop the Civil War-era developers from working their marketing magic on unsuspecting travelers. Whale Harbor may well be America's first tourist trap. Visitors to the town fall into one of two categories: the bushwhacked and the dreamers. Those who stay are both. On Christmas Eve, the town has turned out en masse at the local watering hole to drink eggnog schnapps, which I sincerely hope exists only in the mind of the author. The cast of usual suspects: Leon, an RV salesman of limited means and talents, about to land the windfall of his career; Carlotta, Leon's girl, cast in the mold of '50s matinee dolls; Trot Jeeter, town sheriff, who has a major crush on Carlotta; Bender, town mayor and chief bartender, an odd sort who barks at irregular intervals like a noble Scottish terrier. Oh, and Jesus. Not just some bearded hippie type, but a full-on Jesus, complete with white robes, stigmata and scars from the crown of thorns. Plus cosmic X-ray eyes. All in all, a Jesus to be reckoned with. Jesus and Leon are head-to-head in an epic game of poker; Jesus has bet his quarter-million dollar motor home against all of Leon's worldly possessions. How about kings are wild? Jesus asks. That's been my experience. What Leon doesn't know is that Jesus is a serial killer, and what better time than Christmas for a murderous Prince of Peace? To tell more would be to give away critical plot points, so let's just say that Whale Season is witty, wise and laugh-out-loud funny, a must for fans of Florida literary icons Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry.

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